Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme

PlantNetwork supports this successful scheme by providing free membership for trainees during their placement. If you are a current HBGTP trainee please complete the membership form for personal membership and click on the HBGTP complimentary membership option here

Interested in being a host garden?

The Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme (HBGTP) is seeking expressions of interest for 1 or 2 year trainee placements starting in September 2017. If you are interested in being a host, and meet their eligibility criteria, expressions of interest should be submitted by 16th December. Read more

Natalie Angus, a two year HBGTP at the National Trust’s Biddulph Grange Garden is Staffordshire shares her experiences with PlantNetwork.

‘I have always enjoyed being in the garden and have many happy memories of being outside in my families as a young child.

When I left school however I felt like Horticulture wasn’t an option for me and was channelled, like many others, into higher education and on to university.

Whilst I was there I had a few part-time jobs on farms and this reignited my interest in working outside and made me realise that it was possible to make a career out of working outdoors. From there I got an apprenticeship in horticulture, where I stayed for a few years before applying to the HBGTP and getting my placement at Biddulph Grange Gardens.

The Gardens are a beautiful and interesting example of the Victorian era, complete with quirks, oddities and what would have been the most sought-after plants of the time. Working in such a place is a constant source of inspiration and alongside a brilliant and supportive team I have been able to gain and develop a range of skills from propagation to using a wide variety of tolls and machinery safely and with confidence.

Not only has the scheme offered me the chance to gain two years of experience in an historical garden but I also have the time to learn which is vital in this industry. Part of the scheme includes weekly plant idents, a daily diary, 3 projects a year as well as study blocks and the chance to get a RHS level 3 qualification.

 Being a part of the scheme has opened up opportunities I hadn’t thought were available to me such as taking an RHS bursary funded study trip to the Netherlands, attending some fantastic training courses and working on a show garden for RHS Tatton show for which we won a silver medal. With all this behind me I hope to continue as a gardener, to widen my range of experience and eventually work as a head gardener in a place I love.

The HBGTP is about sharing skills, plant knowledge and ideas to bring a new generation of informed and competent gardeners into the industry to ensure that the traditional practices that keep our historical and botanical gardens well maintained are not lost. I would encourage those who have a student or are thinking about taking one on to provide as much varied training as possible and to encourage innovation that will take our loved gardens forward’.

A splendid Graduation Awards Ceremony was held at Wrest Park for trainee gardeners on the HBGTP. Sixteen trainees graduated this year: nine from the 1-year placement programme and seven from the 2-year Diploma placement programme. This is the first round of the 2-year Diploma programme and it was a very special moment to see this unique training programme succeed so well.

The day opened with a welcome from English Heritage Chief Executive, Kate Mavor, who introduced the Scheme and thanked those who had helped the Scheme become what it is today. Our guest speaker was Michael Walker from Trentham. His motivating speech reminded us all of the satisfaction provided by a career in horticulture – and indeed its challenges. It was an opportunity for the friends and families of the trainees to see the rewards that a career in horticulture will offer their loved ones. The trainees in attendance received their certificates and everyone enjoyed meeting and catching up with friends and colleagues. There was an exhibition of the trainees’ work and the ceremony was followed by a tour of the site led by John Watkins, Head of Gardens and Landscape.

Destinations of Graduating HBGTP Trainees 2016:

2015-16 Stream 1
Audley End Kate MacColl Training – RBG Kew Diploma.
Audley End Alison Legg Training – RBG Kew Diploma.
Chatsworth Eva Glendinning Plant hunting in New Zealand, volunteering in Botanic Gardens at Christ Church and Dunedin. On return will seek post in a historic garden.
Gravetye Valeria Valkova RBG Kew, Band A Horticulturist, Arboretum team.
Osborne House Mark Matthews PGG – 3 year garden placement programme. 1st garden Waddesdon Manor.
Scone Palace Lucie Green Travelling to New Zealand.
Sir Harold Hillier Jenny Swatton Looking at the Devon gardens network for her next steps.
Trentham Robyn Tinsley Gardener for the Stoke Royal Hospital.
Wrest Park Rosemary Kippen Upper Gardens Gardener, Wrest Park
2014-16 Stream 2
Cliveden Hugh Fletcher Training – RBG Kew Diploma.
Great Dixter Jonny Bruce Travelling to work at a nursery in the Netherlands.
Myddelton House Helena Dove Senior Gardener, Myddelton House.
Sissinghurst Castle Elizabeth Maynard Gardener, Sissinghurst Castle.
Wrest Park Eleanor Dunn RHS Wisley Diploma.
Wrest Park Tracey-Anne Mayor TBC